I have spoken before about my love of Edgar Wright as a director. His Cornetto Trilogy is the best comedy franchise as far as I am concerned, and his latest film, Baby Driver, is a masterpiece in film editing. But my favorite film of his has to be Hot Fuzz.
Hot Fuzz wonderfully satirizes the buddy cop genre, but it is also a love letter to the genre. It openly celebrates other buddy cop classics, despite making fun of them at the same time.
The story follows Sgt. Nicholas Angle, I mean Angel, played by Simon Pegg. Angel is the model Police officer. Highly trained, and professional. He is such a great cop, the London precinct transferred him away because he was making them all look bad. But a buddy cop movie is nothing without its buddy cop. In this case, Sgt. Angels buddy is Nick Frost’s, Danny Butterman. Who, as is the trend in these buddy cop movies, the polar opposite of Angel. Whereas Angel is no-nonsense and is a highly trained officer of the law, Butterman is mostly nonsense and is frankly an awful policeman-officer. His dad is the Chief of Police, which is why he is there. He is also obsessed with buddy cop movies. He makes constant references to movies like Pointbreak and Bad Boys. The two play off each other perfectly. Pegg and Frost have been working together for so long, and their on-screen chemistry is as good as any duo in the movie industry.
The story starts when Angel is transferred from the London police force to the police force of a small village called Sanford. Sanford is about the furthest thing from London. At its face, it is the ideal small town, seemingly crime free. But when a series of gruesome “accidents” keep killing the townsfolk, Angel puts his training to good use. He refuses to believe these are only accidents and begins investigating them as murders. The villagers and his fellow police officers are none too happy about this though, as a murder investigation will ruin their chances at Village of the Year. The only person who seems to believe Angel is Danny. I do not want to spoil who the killer is, in case someone has yet to see the movie. But what I will say, is that is an incredibly satisfying, funny, and dramatic reveal. The movie drops a ton of clues, and red herrings throughout to who the killer is, and the reveal is surprising, but it still makes sense.
The movie is a laugh riot. It has both subtle humor, as well as genuine laugh out loud moments. Almost every line is called back in unique and funny ways. Every line of dialogue has a purpose. It is either making a joke, setting up a future joke, calling back to a prior joke, or advancing the narrative arc, sometimes all of them at once. Everything comes back around in a very satisfying way.
Edgar Wright is fantastic at visual humor, in fact, he may be the best at it. Check out this video from one of my favorite YouTubers, Every Frame a Painting, where he describes just how good Wright is at crafting visual humor.
One interesting thing Wright does here is he showcases what actual police work is like. There is a running joke about how police work is mostly paperwork. And while cops doing paperwork sounds boring, Wright makes it funny by treating these paperwork scenes like an action scene, with fast-paced editing, and amplified sound effects mimicking what a movie would do for a gunfight.
But that is not to say there isn’t any action. The movie goes out with a bang, with a huge shootout across the entire village. And when we finally get to this over the top action we expect in this genre, it does not disappoint. It is thrilling, but also, still funny. It hits all the tropes we would expect in an action movie shootout. Fantastic one liners, an excessive amount of bullets, rapidly changing scenery, etc, car chases, and carnage, and it is all down with a wink and a nod.
Hot Fuzz is my favorite comedy movie. It has everything you would want from a comedy and more. In my mind, Edgar Wright is on another level when it comes to crafting comedy films. Whereas most comedies focus only the jokes, Wright crafts actual movies, and puts in the work to add layers to his comedy. He is not only one of the best comedy writers and directors, but among the best filmmakers in the industry. Anything he produces is always at the top of the list of my must watch movies, but at least so far, Hot Fuzz is his finest work.